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Waking Up with a Sore Jaw? You're Likely Grinding Your Teeth

Nearly everyone has clenched or gnashed their teeth at least once in their lifetime. But nightly teeth grinding can hurt your jaw and ruin your smile.

At our practice, AnnMarie Olson DDS PA, our team of exceptional dental experts provides personalized care to the residents of Austin, Texas. We’re committed to creating lifelong relationships with our patients, and their well-being is our priority. 

We understand the discomfort and damage chronic teeth grinding causes. Our team of dentists created this guide to help you better understand why your sore jaw is likely due to teeth grinding and what you can do to stop.

What is teeth grinding?

Teeth grinding, also called bruxism, is when you grind, clench, or gnash your teeth. Since it usually happens at night while you’re sleeping, you may not even be aware you do it until someone tells you or you keep waking up with a sore jaw. Other symptoms include chronic headaches or earaches, a tight or sore face, and a stiff or sore neck. 

What are the side effects associated with teeth grinding?

The side effects of teeth grinding can be extensive. For example, teeth grinding at night is linked to a higher risk of other sleep disorders, such as sleep apnea. 

There are also long-term effects of teeth grinding, including:

Developing or worsening temporomandibular joint (TMJ) disorder is another serious side effect of teeth grinding. The temporomandibular joints are in front of your ears on both sides of your head and are what allow your mouth to open and close smoothly.

When these joints become inflamed or injured, you experience discomfort and pain in the jaw as well as the tendons and muscles around it. If left untreated, TMJ disorders negatively impact your ability to chew, swallow, speak, control facial expressions, and in some cases, may even affect your ability to breathe.

How do I stop grinding my teeth?

There are things you can do to stop grinding your teeth. Depending on your symptoms and the underlying causes, different remedies may produce better results. 

At AnnMarie Olson DDS PA, our dental experts create a customized solution to help you put an end to your teeth grinding. Here are several of our top tips to help you stop grinding and find relief from your sore jaw:  

1. Guard your teeth at night

Wearing a mouthguard while you sleep is one of the most effective ways to protect your teeth and jaw from teeth grinding. At AnnMarie Olson DDS PA, our team creates a custom-fit nightguard for you for superior comfort and effectiveness over a store-bought guard.

2. Manage your stress

Teeth grinding increases for many of our patients when they experience anxiety, depression, and stress. Working to better manage your stress not only helps you stop grinding your teeth, but brings other health benefits as well. Incorporate yoga, exercise, meditation, or other stress-reducing techniques into your daily routine to help alleviate teeth grinding.

3. Relax your jaw

It’s important to discuss teeth grinding and jaw pain with one of our dentists to uncover the underlying cause. Sometimes the set of muscles that control your jaw’s movement can become tense. Your provider may recommend medication to help relax your jaw muscles and stop you from grinding if tension in the jaw is the root cause. 

4. Perform mouth and jaw exercises

A healthy tongue and jaw muscles ensure that your jaw is correctly aligned. They also work to keep your face and jaw from becoming tense, which is important since tense muscles increase the incidence of teeth grinding. Exercising your tongue and jaw muscles can help you stop grinding your teeth. 

One simple exercise you can do at home is to touch your tongue to your front teeth, then open your mouth as wide as possible without moving your tongue. In addition to strengthening your muscles, this exercise helps your jaw relax. In addition, try gently massaging your jaw muscles to help them stay loose. 

Ready to say goodbye to your sore jaw and teeth grinding?

If left untreated, teeth grinding can cause not only a sore jaw, but can also lead to TMJ disorder. Bruxism can also severely damage your teething, creating the need for extensive dental work, such as veneers, implants, or root canals. 

At AnnMarie Olson DDS PA, our team is committed to ensuring your optimal oral health and helping you preserve your smile. If you’re grinding your teeth, don’t wait. Book an appointment online now or call our office to start treatment for teeth grinding. 

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